Akim Aliu is pleased the Florida Panthers are hiring Brett Peterson, the former player agent who's believed to be the NHL's first Black assistant general manager.
"It's massive," Aliu, the co-head of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, told TSN's Kate Beirness. "It's a huge step in hopefully the right direction, and I couldn't be more thrilled. ... This is kind of what we're pushing for, and it's long overdue.
"We feel that there's a lot of people of color that are deserving of jobs and also people from different genders - obviously, women I think are very (adept at) doing a good job in the game of hockey - so we think this is a step in the right direction where hopefully this is the first of many."
Though Aliu approves of the move, he believes the NHL still has room for improvement.
"Honestly, it's a relief to see that things are kind of starting to come together, but I just think we've still got a lot of work to do," he said. "I think there are still people that are not super happy with some of the issues that are going on in our game and are not ready to accept the issues that have been going on in our game."
The Panthers hired Peterson on Tuesday, reuniting new Florida GM Bill Zito with his former colleague in player representation. The two worked together with Acme World Sports, the company Zito founded before leaving for the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2013.
Peterson's hiring continues a recent trend of minority hires in the NHL. Manny Malhotra joined the Toronto Maple Leafs as an assistant coach in September while the Philadelphia Flyers added Chris Stewart to their player development staff. In October, the Pittsburgh Penguins tabbed Trevor Daley as a hockey operations advisor upon his retirement. Stewart and Daley are two of the nine founders of the HDA.